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EU power, H2 lobbies jostle for position over 2040 CO2 target

(Montel) Power generation and hydrogen lobby groups are jostling over their respective roles in helping the EU decarbonise after the European Commission called for a 90% net cut in emissions by 2040 on Tuesday.  

Power sector lobby Eurelectric urged the EC to keep the focus on electrification with established low-carbon power sources such as wind, solar, nuclear and hydropower coupled with storage to decarbonise industry.

Rapidly scaling up “non-mature” technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) and direct air capture to decarbonise industry would be expensive and risked losing public support for the green transition, said Eurelectric’s secretary general Kristian Ruby.

Meanwhile, SolarPower Europe said “relying on costly, time-intensive and unproven low-carbon technologies risks diverting us from more efficient, readily available solutions.”

A fully renewable energy system by 2040 was within reach and “should be Europe’s clear focus”, said SolarPower Europe CEO Walburga Hemetsberger.

But lobby Hydrogen Europe urged policymakers not to undermine hydrogen’s role in providing flexibility solutions and integrating the energy system by focusing on an electrification-only scenario.

It welcomed the EC’s analysis that saw hydrogen playing “a key role” in decarbonising hard-to-abate industries and transport by 2040.

But it was alarmed Brussels had failed to consider hydrogen’s potential role in long-term seasonal storage, power generation and heavy-duty road transport.

“Only by developing hydrogen and electricity infrastructure together will we have a chance at decarbonising all sectors by 2050,” said Hydrogen Europe chief policy officer Daniel Fraile.

Electrification action plan
Both Eurelectric and SolarPower Europe want the EC to propose specific measures to encourage industry to switch to electricity to decarbonise.

Eurelectric called for the next college of EU commissioners to launch an EU “electrification action plan” within the first 100 days of their mandate, scheduled to start in November.

Steel lobby Eurofer, meanwhile, called for EU policymakers to put in place “an investment-friendly” framework to help industry decarbonise, along with access to “affordable clean electricity and hydrogen in unprecedented quantities.”

It said decarbonising the EU steel sector alone would need the equivalent of the current entire power demand of France.

The EC sees scaling up CCS and carbon capture and use as essential to achieving the 90% net emissions cut from 1990 levels by 2040 it has recommended to keep the EU on track to have net-zero emissions by 2050.

It plans to work on regulation to develop a single EU market for CO2 use and storage.